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NHNE News Brief 69
Friday, July 11, 1997
"A thought-provoking exploration
of the extraordinary times in which we live."
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Learners & the Learned
African Dust Blows on Florida
Mystery Bacterium Munches Solvents
A Safer Insect Repellent
Implant Contact Lenses
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
The Hazards of Mouth Piercing
The Way of Things to Come?
Hope for Sale
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
A Second Sphinx at Giza?
The Invasion of Mars
Astronauts Playing with Fire
New Miniplanet Beyond Pluto
United Nations of Believers
Low-Volume Toilets Inadequate
Corn Waste Cleans Polluted Water
The Mutant Tomato
Diagnoses Over the Net
The Body Electric
Peers Teach Abstinence
Library of Congress Maps
ABOUT NHNE & HOW TO JOIN US
LEARNERS & THE LEARNED
"In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exits."
AFRICAN DUST BLOWS ON FLORIDA
(Source: Richard Monastersky, SCIENCE NEWS, 6/14/97)
Each summer, so much dust blows across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa that it would cause Florida and other East Coast states to violate the new air quality standards proposed by the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA). Since 1974, researchers at the UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI have collected daily dust samples from an island off the coast of Florida. Every summer, whenever the winds are favorable, they have recorded large quantities of fine particles of African dust. The origin is confirmed by satellite pictures, plus the dust is a distinctive red-brown color. When the easterly winds are calm, dust levels are almost non-existent, but when the winds are blowing, the values can get up to as much as 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This would place Florida in noncompliance of proposed EPA standards much of the time. At the moment, the new regulations include exemptions for times when certain natural sources such as volcanic eruptions or forest fires boost the particulate count. African dust has yet to be included as one of these exemptions. (JG)
MYSTERY BACTERIUM MUNCHES SOLVENTS
(Source: John Travis, SCIENCE NEWS, 6/14/97)
Scientists have long hunted for bacteria which could digest the chlorinated solvents perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) used to clean clothes and electronic parts, which are major ground water contaminants and suspected carcinogens. Now Stephen H. Zinder and his colleagues at CORNELL UNIVERSITY have isolated a bacterium that seems to thrive on PCE and TCE. The new bacterium converts these solvents to the nontoxic gas ethene. Other than the fact that it works, the bacterium is a puzzle. "It doesn't seem related to much of anything," says Zinder. "We know little about the distribution of this organism." (JG)
A SAFER INSECT REPELLENT
(Source: UCB WELLNESS LETTER via THE ARIZONA LIGHT, 7/97)
Until now, the best way to ward off biting insects was to use a repellent containing either N.N.-diethyltoluamide (DEET) or permethrin, both of which have a downside. DEET can cause allergic reactions and may be hazardous if too much is absorbed through the skin. Permethrin is so toxic that it should only be applied to clothing, which is not practical in shorts and T-shirt weather and on the beach. Now there is safer alternative -- Bite Blocker contains only soybean oil, coconut oil, glycerin, and leicithin. The active ingredient is the soybean oil, which for some time has been registered with the ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY as a pesticide against mites. A special processing of the oil as well as the combination with the other ingredients accounts for the repellent's effectiveness. Tests by the UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH in Ontario found that Bite Blocker repelled black flies and mosquitoes just as well as repellent with 20 percent DEET and lasted longer -- up to 10 hours. Preliminary research also shows that it repels ticks. (JG)
IMPLANT CONTACT LENSES
(Source: EOS-PRISMA, 7/97)
Contact lenses have to be taken out regularly, most of them every day. Now a Russian eye specialist, Svjatoslav Fjodorov, has developed a way to implant plastic contact lenses in the eye permanently. The lens, made of a collagen acrylic polymer, is placed in the space behind the cornea but in front of the lens, via an incision. The operation, which is performed under local anesthetic, takes about 15 minutes. In Argentina, where the technique has already been offered for several years, over 300 patients have received implants. Both those who are long and short sighted can be helped. Because the procedure is still experimental, eye specialists are careful to point out the risks; for example, the operation may increase the chances of cataracts, and some patients experience complications with their own lenses. (MK)
THE LIGHTER SIDE:
THE HAZARDS OF MOUTH PIERCING
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 7/7/97)
Dentists Maurice Lewis and Sheila Price never thought much about mouth piercing until Joseph Chambers, a 20-year-old rock musician, came into their WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY clinic for dental work. Chambers had two piercings on his lips, one on his throat, two on his tongue, as well as a variety of other body parts. He'd even pierced his uvula, the flap of the tissue that hangs in the back of the mouth, but wound up swallowing a ball and ring when they fell out. "It's almost addictive once you get started," he said. Now Lewis and Price think about mouth piercing a lot and are warning people it could cause speech impairment, infection, and even chipped or broken teeth. The ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL PIERCERS counters that problems are rare. "When body piercing is performed by somebody who's well-trained in a clean environment, the risks are very little," said Derek Lowe, secretary of the association's board in Madison, Wisconsin. (JG)
THE WAY OF THINGS TO COME?
(Source: NEW AGE JOURNAL, Mar-Apr/97)
The AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION (AAA) has started listing vegetarian restaurants in their own special category in its 1997 guidebooks. Each listing features a quality rating and information on menus, pricing and location. The guidebooks cover the U.S., Canada and Mexico. (JG)
HOPE FOR SALE
(Source: John Stickney, NEW AGE JOURNAL, Mar-Apr/97)
When former yacht carpenter, Jon Wilson, launched WOODENBOAT MAGAZINE and quickly built up circulation to 100,000, he wondered, "If we can find this many readers for a magazine about wooden boats, what might we find with a more important idea -- a magazine that would go straight to the heart?" Thus was born HOPE MAGAZINE. Subtitled, "Humanity Making a Difference," the bimonthly covers stories about ordinary people who have encountered injustice or need, and taken action. Wilson says of his vision: "'Hope' is the essence of what we're trying to convey: the sense of possibilities, no matter how bleak or chaotic things get." So far, the circulation of the new magazine is only 13,000, but Wilson has plenty of hope. For more information, contact HOPE PUBLISHING, (800) 513-0869. (JG)
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION WATCH:
A SECOND SPHINX AT GIZA?
(Source: A. Robert Smith, VENTURE INWARD, July-Aug/97)
Egyptologist Mohammed Nazmi caused an uproar in London recently with the publication of his study that theorized the existence of second hidden sphinx near the Giza Plateau. Nazmi claimed that, "according to the ancient Egyptian religion, which was linked to the Sun, there should have been two sphinxes -- the first to worship the sunrise and the second for the sunset." While Nazmi's new theory is purely speculative, Zahi Hawass, Chief of the GIZA ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY agrees that the sands of Egypt are still likely to hold many secrets. Hawass told NOVA ONLINE, "I believe that we have found only 30 percent of the Egyptian monuments and there are still 70 percent buried beneath the ground."
Another Egyptian scholar, Mohammed Samir Atta, has also made claims that deviate from traditional archeology in his book, "The Amazing Surprise in Solving the Mystery of Egyptian Pyramids." According to Atta's research, the pyramids and many other ancient monuments were built by a people who lived in Egypt centuries before the pharaohs. Atta believes the skeletons of these people have been found in several parts of Egypt and that they are mentioned in the Koran as "the people of Aad". According to Atta, the real excellence of the ancient Egyptians was not architecture, but medicine and magic.
While the idea of multiple sphinxes and pyramid builders predating the ancient Egyptians will likely keep the pot boiling furiously in Egypt, it's hard to know who to believe. Consider the following:
-- A robot camera discovered a door with what looked like copper handles in a narrow passage in the Great Pyramid, yet the door remains shut because the Egyptians refuse to touch it, choosing instead to focus on the restoration of the Sphinx.
-- In 1980, the EDGAR CAYCE FOUNDATION received permission to drill amid the ruins of the Sphinx Temple which lies in front of the Sphinx. Drilling turned up samples of red granite that was not indigenous to Giza, but no hidden chambers. Further drilling around the paws of the Sphinx was not permitted. In 1987, a Japanese team from WASEDA UNIVERSITY in Tokyo performed an electro-magnetic survey of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx and reported evidence of a north-south tunnel under the Sphinx and two cavities below the hind paws. No exploration of these anomalies has followed. Drilling into several anomalies indicated by an electrical resistivity and acoustical survey carried out in 1977-78 by SRI INTERNATIONAL did not reveal empty chambers, but rather Swiss-cheese-like cavities. In 1991, Robert Schoch from BOSTON UNIVERSITY and Thomas Dobecki from the COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES surveyed the Sphinx using seismic studies and refraction tomography. Their data indicated chambers underneath the front and rear paws of the Sphinx. In 1996, the SCHOR FOUNDATION conducted a remote sensing survey around the Sphinx claiming to have found rooms and tunnels under the Sphinx, but provided no hard proof. And while Joseph Schor promises to reveal his latest findings at the A.R.E. Egypt conference on August 14-17, to date, the existence of not even one chamber beneath the Sphinx has been verified. In the defense of his restrictive policies, Hawass declares, "We cannot allow [uncontrolled] digging and drilling into the Sphinx on the off-chance that somehow we have missed the only evidence of a lost civilization."
-- Robert Schoch also contends that weathering patterns on the Sphinx indicate thousands of years of precipitation, placing the creation of the monument between 7000 and 5000 B.C. Mark Lehner, once A.R.E.'s man in Cairo who has long since laid down that cause while gaining stature as the leading expert on the Sphinx, disputes Schoch's claims, charging that he and his colleague John Anthony West "do not explain how their lost civilization disappeared from the archeological record. Nor do they explain what happened to this lost civilization during the thousands of years between the mysterious Sphinx builders and the Old Kingdom." After 25 years of archeological digs at Giza, Lehner has turned up no trace of a society older than the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 B.C.). Hawass promises, "If we found evidence of a civilization older than that of the dynastic Egyptians, we would not, and could not keep it from the public."
Probably the most significant recent discovery of "hard" evidence to support the contention that the Great Pyramid was built by the Pharaoh Khufu around 2500 B.C. rather than much earlier was uncovered in 1991, when a back-hoe accidentally dug into the ruins of a previously-unknown settlement on the Giza Plateau. Further excavation, supervised by Michael Chazan of HARVARD UNIVERSITY, has made it clear that what has been uncovered are huge kitchens which fed the pyramid laborers. Also discovered were tombs of the artisans who designed and decorated the Giza complexes. Preliminary dating of the artifacts places the age of site in the period of the Old Kingdom, but more work still needs to be done to confirm this.
When will all the suspicion, contention, charges and countercharges concerning ancient Egypt be put to rest? Probably not anytime soon. It is, however, worth noting that those who believe ancient Egypt is the handiwork of a highly-advanced culture (from the Earth or elsewhere) have yet to provide ANY hard evidence of their claims. Modern Egyptologists, on the other hand, continue to find buildings, artifacts, bodies, and other physical evidence that support a more mundane view of how the glories of ancient Egypt came to be. (JG)
THE INVASION OF MARS
By James Gregory
NASA's successful landing on the Red Planet on July 4 has set off a Marsfest on the Blue Planet. On line, on radio, on TV, at planetariums, in papers and magazines, the world is discovering Mars. NASA's Web sites are attracting record numbers of users -- 100 million hits by the end of the first weekend alone. CNN, which devoted mare than half its programming to the Mars landing on July 4, saw ratings double. Both TIME and NEWSWEEK's July 14 issues had pictures of the Red Planet on their covers. MATTEL's Hot Wheels version of the Mars Rover is just hitting toy stores. NASA's JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (www.jplerc.org/store.htm) is taking 220 orders a day for their Mars T-shirt.
A mission to Mars has all the elements that get people excited over space. "First of all, there is our basic fascination with the sky," says Mario Livio, Senior Staff Astronomer at the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE. Then there is the question of extraterrestrial life. "We really want to know, are we alone or not?" adds Livio. But he thinks the main reason that Pathfinder has caught the imagination of the world is because it has something the space shuttle and other orbital missions don't -- a destination. "It's a little like the great explorers, Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Columbus, going to search for new worlds." As a planet, Mars is particularly fascinating. It has ancient cratered plains like the Moon, the longest (2,500 miles) and deepest (6 miles) canyon -- Vallis Marineris -- in the solar system, the highest volcano of any planet (Olympus Mons), and dry river beds and flood plains carved out by huge amounts of long-evaporated water.
Rover's first chemical analysis of the Martian soil was nearly identical to those found by the two Viking landers 21 years ago, suggesting soil is distributed uniformly around the planet, even though the rocks at Ares Vallis (Mars Valley) are different from those at the Viking sites 525 miles away.
The landing spot in Ares Vallis was specifically chosen because it was an ancient flood plain and might still hold traces of life. Pathfinder landed in a field of rocks, "Some were clearly transported here by water and others came locally," ejected from the interior of a crater when some ancient object smashed into Ares Vallis, speculates Ron Greeley, a planetary geologist at ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. Photographic evidence from Pathfinder now indicates that the flood was of Noachian proportions, equivalent to the Mediterranean Basin flooding through the area in the brief span of two weeks, 1.5 to 3 billion years ago. The inundation carried down rocks from the surrounding highlands; photographs taken by the Pathfinder's lander show boulders stacked against each other. One of them, a blue-gray, squarish rock dubbed "Barnacle Bill," was the first Mars rock that Rover examined. It turned out to be similar to the famous Martian meteorite found in Antarctica that showed signs of life -- both "Bill" and ALH84001 are rich in orthopyroxene. But Bill also consists of one third quartz, a substance absent from the Antarctic meteorite, leading exogeologists to speculate that Bill and some of his neighbors might belong to a new class of rocks of volcanic origin that underwent repeated melting and cooling during a torturous birth on the Red Planet long ago.
One of the most amazing things about the whole mission is how well everything is going. Due to budget and time restraints, a number of untested procedures were used, such as the lander descending directly to the surface of the planet without any preliminary orbits. And because a traditional "soft" landing using reverse thrusters was so expensive, the Mars landing consisted of a Rube Goldberg combination of a disposable cruise stage and heat shield, parachute, tether, retro rockets, and airbags. Much to the surprise of ground control, all the components worked perfectly in sync and once the lander stopped bouncing (16 times in all), it came to rest right side up -- a one in four possibility.
There were a few tense moments. For a whole night and part of a day, commands radioed from JPL to the lander were not being forwarded to the rover, perhaps because rover's radio modem had fallen out of sync with the lander's due to frequency drift. Turning the lander's modem off and on a number of times finally fixed the problem. Just to complicate matters, it takes 10 minutes for a radio signal to travel the distance between Earth and Mars -- 119 million miles.
The Independence Day triumph inaugurated a bold new era of planetary exploration by proving that "better, cheaper, faster" missions can succeed. Pathfinder was designed, built and launched in one quarter the time, and at a fraction of the cost ($250 million compared to the $3 billion Viking budget) of missions in the '70s and 80s. Thanks to Pathfinder, the Mars program is on track to launch two spacecraft every 26 months each time Mars is closest to Earth (to minimize cost, of course).
Take a front seat at what is shaping up to be the "largest Internet event in history," according to Matt Golombek, Pathfinder's project scientist. For images and mission updates, try the Mars Pathfinder project page: <http://wwwjpl.nasa.gov//mpfmir>.
Coming up next: On September 12, Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) will arrive at Mars to begin two years of precisely mapping the surface of the planet. One of MGS's targets: the "Face on Mars," a rock formation some feel was built by an ancient Martian civilization. (Sources: Martha T. Moore and Paul Hoversten, USA TODAY, 7/9/97; Sharon Begley, NEWSWEEK, 7/14/97; Paul Hoversten, USA TODAY, 7/7/97; CNN ONLINE, 7/8/97)
ASTRONAUTS PLAYING WITH FIRE
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 7/7/97)
In an experiment to study the effects of weightlessness on fire, astronauts on the space shuttle Columbia are scheduled to set a total of 144 controlled fires in sealed chambers before the 16-day laboratory mission ends on July 17. As of July 7, they had already set more than half. Here's what they have found so far:
-- Flames in space are twice as long as comparable ones on Earth. The extra length is attributed to the slow movement of fuel and air in weightlessness.
-- The flames emit soot faster in weightlessness than expected.
The surprising results should help improve fire safety on spacecraft. The terrifying fire aboard Russia's space station Mir in February pointed out the importance of such research. The study of soot production also could help reduce air pollution on Earth. (JG)
NEW MINIPLANET BEYOND PLUTO
(Source: R. Cowen, SCIENCE NEWS, 6/14/97)
Using a new large-format detector at the HARVARD-SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS in Cambridge, Mass., astronomer Jane Luu has discovered a mammoth icy body orbiting the Sun at the fringes of the solar system. The 306-mile-wide miniplanet, dubbed "1996 TL66," is the biggest and brightest object ever detected beyond Pluto.
TL66 belongs to a new class of objects that roam the no-man's land between the Kuiper Belt 130 AU from the Sun and the Oort Cloud 50,000 AU out. (One AU is equal to the distance from the Earth to the Sun.) Luu suspects that 800 frozen bodies of similar size litter this uncharted region and were intimate partners in the dance of planetary formation, and thus may shed light on the origin of planets. The unstable orbits of such bodies could allow them to migrate relatively easily into the inner solar system, where they would become short-period comets, orbiting the Sun every 200 years or less. (JG)
UNITED NATIONS OF BELIEVERS
(Source: Don Lattin, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 6/22/97 thanks to Rev. Ann Tognetti)
In 1893, for the first time in history, the PARLIAMENT OF WORLD RELIGIONS convened in attempt to bring all religions of the world to one table for peaceful dialogue and conflict resolution. Unfortunately, there was no infrastructure and no consensus, and the idea fizzled. When THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS was formed after the First World War, the idea of a companion LEAGUE OF RELIGIONS was floated, but all efforts to organize something only amounted to resolutions that were quickly forgotten.
Now, San Francisco's Episcopal Bishop, William Swing, is trying once again to bring all the world religions together. On June 23, 200 delegates from 100 historic religious traditions and new spiritual movements sat down at a common table at STANFORD UNIVERSITY to begin working on a charter for an international interfaith organization, tentatively called the UNITED RELIGIONS. Important details -- such as how the UNITED RELIGIONS will function and who will pay for it -- are to be worked out in a series of meetings between now and June 26, 2000, when the interfaith organization is scheduled to be established in the Presidio in San Franciso.
The idea was triggered in February 1993, when Swing was approached to host an interfaith service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNITED NATIONS. He began to think about the contrast between the nations of the world and religions of the world -- for 50 years, nations have struggled for global good, yet in the same 50 years world most religions hadn't even had any meaningful dialogue with each other. From that point on, he developed a deep sense of conviction and dedicated the rest of his life to be a catalyst for the creation of something like the United Nations for religions. Swing envisions the world's religions "coming together on a daily, permanent basis, in pursuit of global good." And what better place to do it, he asks, than at the Presidio [a former military base in San Francisco], "where we could turn swords into ploughshares."
Swing continues, "One of the people I talked with was [Swiss theologian] Hans Kung. He says that there will be no peace among nations until there is peace among religions, and there will be no peace among religions until there is dialogue among religions. Our job is to start the dialogue."
A lot of religious leaders have cautioned Swing to stay away from prayer and theology. He sees wisdom in that advice, "I think we are going to be hunting for common values that spring from theology, but not the theology itself, because I don't think we will ever agree on the theology."
While Swing admits that a lot of harm has been done in the name of religion and there are a lot of things that have to be healed in people's psyches, he remains hopeful and positive, "Religion is the carrier of sacred tradition; religion has taught people to pray; religion has taught people to serve in communities, to work with young people and give them a sense of right and wrong. And religion teaches people to sing, from the heart. If religion did nothing but teach people to sing it would still be a great thing."
The Weatherhead School of Management at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY in Cleveland has been analyzing the 50 global initiatives that have the potential to change the world in the next millennium. They consider UNITED RELIGIONS as the most important initiative they have ever seen, by far. (JG)
LOW-VOLUME TOILETS INADEQUATE
(Source: Kathleen Koch, CNN ONLINE, 6/23/97)
A 1993 federal law meant to save water and help the environment mandated toilet tank capacity be cut by more than half -- from 3.5 gallons to 1.6 gallons. Unfortunately, the new design doesn't do the job, according to homeowners and apartment dwellers who say their only remedy is to flush more than once, use a plunger or add water to the toilet bowl. "This is a national problem," says Rep. Joe Knollenberg, who is sponsoring a bill to let scientists and engineers decide what gallonage per flush works best. The new toilets save an estimated 5 gallons per person per day. Without them, environmentalists predict increased sewage overflow will endanger the nation's rivers, lakes, streams and beaches as well as its drinking water supply. For now, unhappy homeowners have few options -- anyone caught installing an old 3.5 gallon tank in their home can be fined up to $2,500. (JG)
CORN WASTE CLEANS POLLUTED WATER
(Sources: Christopher Wills, ASSOCIATED PRESS via AOL NEWS 6/11/97, thanks to Joya Pope)
Waste from corn could become a cheap, effective tool for cleaning up polluted water, says Jacob Lehrfeld, a chemist at the NATIONAL CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL UTILIZATION RESEARCH in Peoria. The substance absorbs not only lead and other toxic materials but also chemicals, such as the weed killer atrazine. Current anti-pollution agents can't do both. "It's basically a 'two-fer' -- you get rid of a waste material and also you're utilizing a corn product that currently is not being utilized," says Lehrfeld.
Steven Eckhoff, a professor of agricultural engineering at the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS welcomed the news: "I'm excited. It would ultimately lead value back to the farmer because it makes the whole corn-milling industry more viable." When corn is milled to create cornstarch, a common byproduct is "corn steep liquor" -- a brown, syrupy liquid. Another leftover is corn bran. Those leftovers are generally turned into a cheap livestock feed. But corn steep liquor contains something called phytic acid. Lehrfeld mixes that acid with the corn bran and heats the mix in a slight vacuum. The result is a black, powdery resin that absorbs pollutants in water. When the resin and pollutants are removed, clean water is left behind.
Lehrfeld envisions his product being used at factories that must clean their water before releasing it. It also could be used in municipal water-treatment systems. Lehrfeld said the resin absorbs roughly the same amount of toxins as the petroleum-based products that now are used for such purposes which cost anywhere from $1.50 to $12 a pound -- a corn-based version would cost roughly $8 a pound, and the price should drop quickly once production becomes commonplace. Currently corn-millers are only getting about 3.5 cents a pound for feed. (JG)
THE MUTANT TOMATO
(Source: Maggie Fox, REUTERS, 7/8/97)
European scientists have successfully bred a vitamin-rich tomato they hope can eventually help prevent cancer. The tomato has twice the levels of lycopene, which has been attributed to reducing the risks of some cancers. According to team leader Peter Bramley at the ROYAL HOLLOWAY HOSPITAL near London, "What we have done is to take the gene that encodes the enzyme to produce lycopene and introduced that into the tomato. The idea is if we can increase the amount of lycopene in the diet through tomatoes this can reduce the incidence of these cancers." Bramley, who coordinated the European Union-funded study, said he had already eaten some of the transgenic tomatoes. "They don't taste any different. They are quite normal." But he was acutely aware of the fears people had about genetically-engineered food. Street demonstrations broke out in several European cities earlier this year over news that MONSANTO's genetically-engineered "Round Up Ready" soybean would be imported without labelling. Bramley noted that the genes inserted into the tomatoes were for substances already eaten by people, so the safety implications were different. Other teams in Spain and Germany are working with lycopene-enhanced peppers, and work is being done in other labs to create rice rich in beta-carotene and lycopene for growing in countries where naturally vitamin-rich vegetables are scarce. (JG)
DIAGNOSES OVER THE NET
(Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/14/97)
The U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION recently approved new software to transmit and receive X-ray images over the Internet. Real-time diagnoses performed over the Internet will especially benefit isolated patients who can't be examined by specialists. For example, when a 7-year-old boy in Turkey broke his hip by merely falling on the ground, his doctors were at a loss to explain what was wrong, so using the innovative software, they scanned his X-ray on a computer and sent the image via the Internet to American specialists, who diagnosed a tumor within minutes. The child arrived at MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL two days later to begin a complicated treatment unavailable in his homeland. For the past five years, hospitals have relied on expensive equipment that could only send images to other hospitals outfitted with the exact same devices. The new method uses software created by AUTOCYTGROUP INC. of Watertown, Massachusetts, and transmits through an ordinary Internet server. The goal is to make this technology sufficiently affordable so that it would permit less affluent countries to get opinions from experts around the world. (JG)
THE BODY ELECTRIC
(Sources: SPECTRUM, May-June/97; Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY, 7/3/97)
[The following excerpts are taken from an interview in SPECTRUM MAGAZINE of Dr. John Zimmerman, founder of the BIO-ELECTRO-MAGNETICS INSTITUTE in Boulder, Colorado.]
"Very few people are aware of electromagnetic pollution. Dr. Robert Baker has stated that we have increased the electromagnetic energy around us about 100 million times in just the last 100 years. In evolutionary terms, that's a blink of an eye, and it's not possible for us to adapt so quickly.
"I've received several communications from people in New York City who claim to have become almost incapacitated by headaches and other symptoms right after a new type of cellular phone service called PERSONAL COMMUNICATION SERVICES was started. The service uses a large number of closely-spaced rebroadcasting units on rooftops of hundreds of New York City apartment buildings. When the system went into service, many people started to develop uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches. It's been driving people away from the city because they cannot tolerate living with this source of electromagnetic radiation.
"I suggest that people go to relatively remote, isolated areas where things are less built up. Anything near the seashore or a forest is helpful. Regarding things to avoid, definitely do not sleep in an electromagnetically "noisy" bedroom. Some people have headboards built up with all kinds of electronic stuff -- phones, answering machines, clock-radios. On top of that, they may be sleeping in an electrically-heated waterbed or have an electric blanket."
The above comments seem at odds with a report just published by the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE which indicate that children who live near high voltage power lines appear no more likely to get leukemia than kids living elsewhere. The study, sponsored by THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, is the latest of hundreds to examine the link between EMF and cancer (News Brief 35). Concerns of parents nationwide have cost an estimated $1 billion a year in diminished real estate prices and stalled power-transmission projects.
The overall finding comes with one caveat: a handful of children exposed to moderately-elevated EMF showed a slight increase (1.7) in the likelihood of getting cancer. The risk increase was so slight and the number do small that researchers believe it is more a matter of chance than anything. In contrast, smokers face a 20-fold increase in cancer risk. (JG)
PEERS TEACH ABSTINENCE
(Source: Nancy Hatch Woodward, AMERICAN NEWS SERVICE, 6/30/97)
Two out five women in the U.S. become pregnant during their teenage years according to the ALAN GUTTMACHER INSTITUTE, a New York-based organization that conducts research on reproductive health issues. And while the number of American teenagers having sex has begun to decline for the first time in 25 years, the U.S. still leads most industrialized countries in teen-age pregnancies, abortions and childbearing.
These sobering numbers have helped trigger a nonprofit initiative called the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCY, which includes such high-profile personalities as former surgeon general C. Everett Koop and actress Whoopi Goldberg. The group hopes to reduce the number of pregnancies by one-third in the next decade. The efforts involve a mix of strategies, such as media campaigns and peer counseling. One example is Hamilton County, which had Tennessee's sixth highest rate of teen-age pregnancy for girls 15 to 19 years old in 1986. That same year, several prevention organizations decided to join forces and their efforts soon grew into the HAMILTON COUNTY ADOLESCENT PREGNANCY PREVENTION COUNCIL, which today brings together over 35 community organizations including the CHATTANOOGA ADOLESCENT AWARENESS TEAM (CHAAT). Since the council's founding, Hamilton County has dramatically reduced its number of pregnancies in girls aged 15 to 19 from 1,142 in 1986 to 791 in 1995.
The message of CHAAT is twofold: Don't have sex, but know what you're getting into if you do. The approach is called "abstinence-plus," and it's being pushed by teen-age role models who visit local schools and youth groups in the area to talk about abstinence. Peer educators must be either "primary abstinent" (never had sex) or "secondary abstinent," a status sometimes referred to as a "secondary virgin." CHAAT has been designated a Model Program by the state of Tennessee each year since 1991 and in 1996 was nominated by the state for the NATIONAL HEALTH AWARD given by the CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION. Curtis, a college freshman and oldest CHAAT panelist, believes their success is due in part to the fact that "we are here to teach them about choices, not to tell them what to do. It's okay for them to make up their own minds, but they should know as much as they can about these issues before they decide."
This attitude has put them at odds with some other groups. The AAA WOMEN'S SERVICE, a pro-life group, has started its own abstinence program, WHY KNOW, which teaches the drawbacks of birth control in its five-day, abstinence-only program. "CHAAT is not the abstinence program -- we are. CHAAT talks about 'if you aren't going to be abstinent, use a condom,'" said Kris Frainie, Director of WHY KNOW, "and that is where we split ways. We do not recommend birth control in any way. We believe that if you are single you should be saving sex for marriage."
Others argue that the CHAAT approach works. In a recently published review of studies on sex education programs, researchers Linda A. Berne and Barbara K. Huberman found that participants in abstinence-plus programs maintained abstinent behavior longer than most teenagers, while those in abstinence-until-marriage programs "showed no significant gains in maintenance of abstinence." (JG)
ECOVISION features the very latest environmental news stories, a virtual reality nature gallery, interactive areas for K-12 students to learn and interact with regards to environmental awareness and just about anything that effects the ecology and environment of planet Earth. Specially targeted are global youth in an effort to bring them up-to-date information on our environmental concerns in an effort to leave behind a better world. (Source: ECOVISION Press Release, 6/28/97)
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS MAPS
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS is putting a portion of its vast map collection on the Net. So far, only 26 of their maps are online, mostly panoramic maps of cities. By October, the number is due to rise to 1,200, and by the year 2000 at least 50,000 maps will be online. "The objective of this program is to get these materials which are unknown to most Americans out to the general public and this is technology that allows us to do this," said Ralph E. Ehrenberg, Chief of the library's GEOGRAPHY AND MAP SECTION. "A side benefit is that [these fragile documents] will be handled a lot less in the reading room." (Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS via CNN ONLINE, 6/9/97)
ONELOOK offers a swift search in more than 100 dictionaries from the general to the extremely subject-specific. Look for computing glossaries, legal terms and even The Glossary of Pigeon Genetics. An asterisk "wild card" expands your query when you're not quite sure of the spelling. (Source: NET GUIDE, 5/4/97)
David Sunfellow (DS)
James Gregory (JG)
Gail Rossi (GR)
Joya Pope (JP)
Palden Jenkins (PJ)
Kathleen-Blake Frankel (KBF)
Mary Koch (MK)
Robert Perry (RP)
Steve Haag (SH)
Chris Czech (CC)
Sandy Ezrine (SE)
Mark Nijenhuis (MN)
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